Joanna Wang

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I always like to think the city I'm from sort of grows along with me. When I was small, my parents would need to bike me to kindergarten, later came the extensive subway system, and by the time I went to high school, the final one mile between subway stations and my home was connected with efficient minibuses.

I started to ask questions about the science behind “where”: How do people knew where to put a subway station, when there were so many variables? Where is another good location for my favorite convenient store chain? After learning about Spatial Sciences Institute in my freshman year at USC, I finally found the tool that could answer all these questions – GIS.

At the USC Spatial Sciences Institute, I have been provided with extensive opportunities and resources to fully explore my passions. I’ve been able to work on research projects from 3D visualizations to using maps for education and humanitarian tasks, and my team won an NGA hackathon for food security with our interdisciplinary spatial sciences and data sciences approach. I definitely have learned the power and potential that GIS has for helping people in need.

These experiences also led to my internship at Esri, the creator and still the leader of the GIS industry. This broader platform allowed me to further develop my design and coding skills, and to help people succeed in their mapping tasks. I realized a lot of the urban planning, architecture, and GeoDesign classes I took gave me contextual understanding of the field, so that I could catch up to the work pace quickly. In my Esri internship, I worked with the GeoPlanner team, and part of my roles is to develop some tutorial videos for people to learn about the app. Here is the first video I produced with the guidance of my mentor, Joe Liao, which uses data about USC.

After graduating in May 2018, I see myself working closely in GIS consulting and software design. Eventually, I want to go to graduate school to expand my skill sets so that I can better serving the people in need with technology.


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